Bulls have a night to forget in Sacramento
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Bulls center Joakim Noah looks to go to the basket against Sacramento Kings center Cole Aldrich during the first quarter Wednesday night.
The Bulls might officially be rooting for the Sacramento Kings to move to Seattle next season.
If that's the case, they won't have to relive the nightmare Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena. The Bulls were simply buried by the lowly Kings, falling behind by an astonishing 44 points in the third quarter before losing 121-79.
That was the largest deficit of Tom Thibodeau's coaching tenure. Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, of all people, summed it all up by tweeting, "Is that Sac vs. Chi score right?"
Yes, it was right. The Bulls were leading 16-15 in the first quarter, then pretty much stepped into a sinkhole. Sacramento went on one of those run-of-the-mill 45-10 runs to open a 34-point advantage in the second quarter.
After the game, Thibodeau pointed a finger at himself and sent a word of warning to his players.
"I'm probably most disappointed in myself," he told reporters. "My job is to have them ready. We can't come out like that. That's on me. I didn't like our intensity in the Laker game, and I didn't like it tonight. I've got to drive harder, and I will.
"We're down people. For us, being short-handed, we can never forget how hard we have to play. So the guys that are there, I've got to get that intensity up. And I will — trust me on that one."
Asked how he can get the intensity up, Thibodeau answered, "We'll see."
The Bulls were again missing Kirk Hinrich (sore foot), Taj Gibson (sprained left knee) and Richard Hamilton (sore back).
Derrick Rose performed his usual pregame shooting ritual in front of a swarm of redshirted fans, but no one, including his struggling teammates, knows when he will return from knee surgery.
On the other hand, Sacramento's top scorer, power forward DeMarcus Cousins, didn't play because of a left-quad contusion, while former Bulls forward James Johnson was out for personal reasons.
This was one of those nights when everything seemed to fall for the Kings, while the Bulls (35-29) settled for bricking outside shots. Those long misses compounded the problem because they created fastbreak opportunities for the home team.
Kings guard Tyreke Evans had 26 points, while hitting 11 of 13 shots from the field. Sacramento started the night as the NBA's worst defensive team, allowing 105.1 points per game, or 26 more than the Bulls could muster.
"There's two things that you have to have to get intensity," Thibodeau added. "You have to have great concentration and you have to have great effort. When you're lacking in intensity, you have to go back to those two things.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Are we as well-prepared as we need to be?' And that's my job. So I'm going to make sure that happens."
The Bulls actually had a reliable offensive weapon in Carlos Boozer, who scored 21 points while hitting 8 of 12 shots from the field.
Nate Robinson also was decent, adding 19 points, although he got the worst of a personal battle with his old University of Washington buddy Isaiah Thomas (22 points). Robinson finished the third quarter with a driving layup and 3-point play, allowing the Bulls to trim the deficit to 93-60.
The Bulls should have been well-rested. They hadn't played since Sunday afternoon when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. They spent the two off days in L.A., rather than Sacramento.
Now 7-12 since Feb. 1, the Bulls' three-game California trip ends Friday at Golden State.
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